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Michigan governor signs act to decriminalize paid surrogacy contracts

Michigan has become the last state to decriminalize paid surrogacy on Monday, after Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed a package of bills intended to protect families using surrogacy and in vitro fertilization (IVF).

Whitmer signed the Michigan Family Protection Act on Monday. She described the act as a “package of common sense,” at an event in Royal Oak, Michigan. “It’s to protect families born under IVF, and to ensure LGBTQ plus parents are treated equally.”

Surrogacy – in which one person agrees to carry a child for an intended parent or parents – has become an important tool for families facing infertility and same-sex couples.

According to the governor, Michigan was the last state in the United States to still criminalize paid surrogacy contracts. In addition to states explicitly regulating paid surrogacy, some states have no laws about surrogacy but it is commonly accepted, according to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine.

“Our outdated law prescribed up to a year of jail time and a $10,000 fine” for paid surrogacies,” Whitmer said.

“Today’s bills repeal that ban and better protect surrogates, children and parents. They will ensure that you have the freedom to start your family without political interference,” the governor went on.

The package was presented to the governor on March 27, according to the Michigan legislature.

The package includes a total of nine bills. In addition to decriminalizing paid surrogacy, it also lays out the legal framework for parents of children born through surrogacy and provides regulations on who can act as a surrogate.

State Rep. Samantha Steckloff, the legislator who introduced the package and its lead backer, praised the Michigan Senate for passing it.

The bills establish “the clear legal link between parents and the children born in assisted reproduction,” said Steckloff in a March news release.

At the event on Monday, Steckloff referenced other states’ battle for reproductive rights. In February, the Alabama Supreme Court issued a ruling stating frozen embryos have certain legal protections, throwing the future of IVF and other forms of assisted reproduction into turmoil.

Steckloff said across the country, “reproductive and fertility freedoms are under attack” and praised her fellow legislators for their work on the package.

“Whether using surrogacy or IVF, ensuring that a legal child relationship exists will give children a more sense of belonging and upbringing and eliminate any possible confusion around parentage,” she said.

In a statement sent to CNN, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine said they were “grateful” the Michigan legislature has taken “this important step to ensure the citizens of Michigan have access to this important family-building tool.”

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